France Makes Powerful World Cup Statement With Dominant Win Over Switzerland

MatuidiThe 2014 World Cup has been a goalfest in the group stage (74 goals through 25 games), and the team putting on the most impressive display of attacking soccer is France.

The French have emerged as one of the early favorites to win the World Cup after a clinical 5-2 win over Switzerland on Friday to take over the Group E lead with a perfect six points in two games.

France’s attack has been firing on all cylinders in Brazil, which is impressive when you consider that its best player — Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery — isn’t playing because of an injury. France’s five goals are the most it has scored in a single World Cup game since the 1998 group stage, and Friday’s win was the third time since 1958 that the French found the back of the net five times.

The key factor for France is that it’s receiving scoring production from several players.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema scored another sensational goal on Friday, bringing his tournament total to three. He’s tied with Germany’s Thomas Muller and Dutch stars Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben in the race for the Golden Boot.

Benzema has scored nine goals in his last nine international appearances, which is a stark turnaround from when he was on a 1,222-minute goalless drought in October. In addition to his goal against the Swiss, he also picked up two assists.

The other two-thirds of France’s attacking trio are Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Valbuena, who combined for seven shots (five on target), two goals and two assists Friday. In fact, it was Valbuena’s perfectly placed corner kick that Giroud capitalized on to open the scoring in the 17th minute. The midfield also chipped in with Blaise Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko each scoring once.

Overall, four French players tallied three or more shots on target, five different players scored and four collected an assist. This team can score in any situation, whether it’s a set piece, counterattack, etc.

As a result, this what Les Bleus’ shot chart looked like after 90 minutes:

Even the defenders are aiding the attack. Wingbacks Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra are making aggressive runs down the flanks to send dangerous crosses into the box, and their passes out of the defensive third of the field are igniting what has become a deadly French counterattack. Center back Mahmoud Sakho, who defended brilliantly against Switzerland, also was among France’s most efficient passers.

This year’s French side is looking very much like the 1998 squad that beat Brazil on home soil to win the World Cup. Just like that title-winning team, the 2014 squad has won its first two games and is combining a potent attack with stellar defense and reliable goalkeeping.

At this rate, there’s a good chance we could see another World Cup celebration parading down the Champs-Élysées in Paris next month.

Photo via Twitter/@FOXSoccer

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